No visit to Tunisia is complete without a stop in Sidi Bou Said -the picturesque hilltop village overlooking the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Tunis. The village has a calm, relaxed atmosphere and outstanding views of the sea. Many travelers describe the village as charming, and I can’t think of a better way to describe it myself.
The blue and white theme throughout Sidi Bou Said is something that adds to its charm. The houses and buildings are white, and the doors and decorative window lattices are blue. Rodolph d’Erlanger, the French artist and musicologist, is said to have introduced the blue and white theme in the 1920’s when he lived there. The village’s blue and white colors set against the backdrop of the distant white clouds and blue sea give a wonderful effect.
On my first visit to Sidi Bou Said, the beautiful blue doors made a strong impression on me. The large, decorative doors are entrances to what used to be mansions and important buildings.
The beautiful doors aren’t only on the main walking street that runs through the village. Some of the side streets are where you’ll find the largest and most elaborate ones.
Travelers standing in front of an ornate blue door in Sidi Bou Said
As I’ve returned to the village again and again, these doors have come to represent the sense of charm, beauty, and history Sidi Bou Said holds. They remind me that there is much more to the village than its spectacular view. Behind these doors, famous artists, musicians, important families, and government officials have lived and worked. The blue doors remind me about the important role Sidi Bou Said has played in Tunisian history and culture.
I wish the doors could share with us all they’ve seen in their long history. For now, though, I’ll be content with a walk through Sidi Bou Said with my camera and a good imagination.
To get a different view of the village and sea, stop in for a coffee or mint tea at the Café des Arts. It’s on a side street to the right off the main road (turn right when the driving road turns into a pedestrians only walking path). At the cafe, follow the stairs up to the roof where there’s plenty of seating. Enjoy!
Austin learned the power of authentic travel during a year home-stay experience in Brazil. Since then, he’s been passionate about connecting deeply with other cultures and helping fellow travelers do the same. He and his wife have lived in Tunisia for several years. He continues to be surprised by the hidden gems the country has to offer, as well as the hospitality and kindness of the Tunisian people.
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